An open letter to Charlton fans
It’s a long, long time since I last went to the Valley and the last Charlton match I went to was probably at Selhurst Park. I don’t recall the result – although I think we lost – or who we were playing because of an incident which saw me step onto the pitch.
Selhurst Park was but one bus ride away from where I was then living, and that Saturday I had child minding duties to perform. With the permission of their mothers, I took two seven year olds along for their first experience of what I hoped might turn out to be a formative rite of passage into what for me has been a lifelong Addickshun .
Given my height, I decided to plonk the two down at the front where they could see through the railings, while I stood a few rows back where I wouldn’t block the views for others but could still watch the match while keeping my eye on my charges below.
Come half-time, I couldn’t see them, but I could hear the announcer: “Would the father of Samantha and Mark please come to the St.John’s ambulance brigade tent-hut (?) and collect them.”
This meant an embarrassing walk to the diagonally opposite corner of the pitch.
We didn’t stay for the second half, and I didn’t say anything to their respective mothers.
I’ve had greater ‘success’ with my own son, and quite understand why he’s now a sponsor of some of Barnet’s kit. His introduction to league football came at Craven Cottage when he was about five. When we went through the turnstiles and I got ready to pay for two seats in the stand, the guy in the kiosk said that my lad could sit on my lap and gave me one ticket.
As the seats next to me were empty, I plonked Sam in the one to my left. I’m fairly certain that we won, because I distinctly remember some wizardry from Derek Hales just below us.
However, Fulham scored first, at which point Sam proved his loyalty to my cause by punching the Fulham supporter who’d come later to sit on his other side. I picked Sam up, and put him on the empty seat on my right, all the while profusely apologising. Thankfully, Fulham fans are not known to be aggressive.
Yes, football fandom is a family affair, and that is why I continue to follow Charlton from afar. I remain in touch, mainly through the ‘net, and eagerly look forward to a return to the EPL because then I may actually get to see a few matches on TV.
It might seem strange to some fans, but now that I’m embedded in Indonesia I have a major concern about the kit. Whether it’s popular or not with fans is immaterial: as I said, I never get to see matches. However, it is made by Nike, who have many sub-contracting factories producing sportswear here.
Few of them follow Indonesian labour laws, some don’t even pay minimum wages currently set at c.$200 per month for a family of four – a sum way below a ‘living wage’. The often compulsory overtime is not fully paid, nor are agreed bonuses.
And now at least one factory is union busting.*
I’m not sure that I want to continue to support a club which on the one hand has a universally praised Community Trust, yet doesn’t give a fig for its moral obligations beyond its perceived catchment area.
*More info here and a petition to Nike here.
NB. I wrote something similar to the above four years ago: the World Cup, Wimbledon, Charlton … and Nike. I really hope I don’t have to do it again!